Did the Minister consider the various amendments submitted on the Committee Stage? Did he consider the amendments to Sections 16 and 26?
Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill, 1955—Report and Final Stages.
Deputy Aiken queried, on the Committee Stage, whether it would not be advisable to define the expression "Irish associations" in clause (a) of Section 16, or, as an alternative, write into the section the types of cases which clause (a) is intended to cover.
I have had the matter examined in my Department and by the draftsman and I am told that it would be inadvisable to accept either suggestion. To do so might preclude the Minister for Justice from granting a certificate of naturalisation, later on, in special circumstances in which we would be all agreed that it would be desirable to give a certificate.
In actual practice Section 16 will be utilised only to dispense with some or all of the residence requirements at (c), (d) and (e) of Section 15. The type of cases which the clause is intended to cover is that of (1) aliens who may join the Defence Forces; or (2) aliens who while normally resident in Ireland for prolonged periods may not have a full year's continuous residence here prior to application; or (3) aliens who join Irish religious orders with the intention of going abroad permanently as missionaries when ordained but who remain under the direction of the Irish branch of the order.
We have already had some applications under these heads which did not qualify under existing law. Experience of citizenship law over the past 21 years suggests that in this new Bill we should make provision for the grant of certificates of naturalisation in special circumstances—some of which, of course, we cannot foresee—where the Minister for Justice considers that the Irish descent or Irish association of the applicant justifies a departure from the normal procedure, relating to residence, set out in clauses (c), (d) and (e) of Section 15. That is all that is involved under the section.
Surely the Minister could make that quite clear? Surely he could consider the matter again and, if all he intends to do is to give himself power to deal with certain persons who might not have sufficient residence qualifications, he could bring in an amendment in the Seanad to deal with the case of a certain type of person who had not completed the statutory requirements in regard to residence? I press the Minister to consider that matter again. While we want to go as far as we can in giving the Minister liberty to use his discretion, we do not want to have that discretion so wide that everybody and anybody could become a citizen. Perhaps the Minister would reconsider the matter and bring in an amendment in the Seanad.
I appreciate Deputy Aiken's point and I am prepared to consider the matter again and see if we can reach any agreement on it.